The Landscape for Interest Groups in the Netherlands

The Netherlands is known to have one of the highest population densities in the whole of Europe. What you may not realise about this population, is that the country also has a large number of interest groups, and organisations, relative to its people. There are approximately 2000 interest groups, and organisations, in the country, to put it into perspective. These groups cover a wide variety of issues and vary in size and scope as well. The structure and rules on interest groups and their mandates make it easy to form these groups, and easy for public and private stakeholders.

The country has what is known as the ‘polder model’ and has a corporatist tradition, that involves policymaking in a way that promotes, and fosters, traditional relationships between the government (federal), and organisations of all sizes, to work towards economic, environmental and social interests. This creates a favourable environment for interest groups, as there are mechanisms in place to facilitate, and mitigate disagreements, and ensure fluid conversation.

Non-Governmental Organizations

Interest groups such as trade unions, and professional associations, do feel significant pressure, as they act as intermediary organisations. The practice of negotiating agreements is still alive and well, but there is a lessening support base, as a result of this pressure. Increased support is needed, to continue to ensure the legitimacy of these agreements.

Conversely, instead of interest groups, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and citizen groups are the ones who are taking the role of shining the spotlight on issues and setting the agenda for political parties, government, and organisations to consider.

The issues and interests of these groups are diverse, and as such, the attention of key public figures and stakeholders is hard to attain and spread evenly. Not all interest groups have access to resources that put them in front of the legislative process.